Only a week after the 2008 World Superbike season kicked off at Losail with a podium for Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team) the second round approaches at Corser's home circuit, Phillip Island (PI), this coming weekend. After the Saturday race in the Middle East, normal Sunday service will be resumed from this weekend, with raceday at PI coming on March 2.
Both Corser and his team-mate Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italy WSB Team) have taken part in a successful pre-season test at the 4.445km circuit, setting faster lap times on their YZF-R1s than they had ever done before in Australia. Corser is not only a double World Champion and the most experienced rider ever in World Superbike, he is something of a virtuoso performer at Phillip Island, having won six races in front of his adoring home fans; the most recent was in race one, 2006.
Based in Europe for most of the racing season, Corser relishes putting on a show in his native country and will be all out to add to his Qatar podium - ideally with his first WSB race win in Yamaha colours.
Haga is nursing a battered and bruised body in the run up to the Australian round, after one heavy fall in qualifying at Losail and another in race one, but he is determined to ride at his normal level this weekend to get his championship challenge back on track. He has won with Yamaha at the Phillip Island circuit before, way back in 1998 on a YZF750SP; one of his 26 total career wins so far.
Expectations for the team are high after a solid winter test at Phillip Island, during which many aspects of the YZF-R1's roadbike technologies - like the YCC-I (Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake) and the more track oriented overall chassis design - were extensively evaluated by the riders.
Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha) hopes for better fortune in round two than he experienced at Qatar, with one finish in 21st and a DNF poor reward for all his efforts in the one-rider team. He is now in his third competitive year with the same squad and now knows the Phillip Island circuit well.
The Yamaha GMT 94 World Superbike team, featuring David Checa and Sebastien Gimbert, learned a lot in Qatar in what was their first competitive meeting since jumping up from World Supersport to World Superbike. Not able to use their full WSB engine specification yet (as there are still some Endurance racing parts inside) the team now feel they know a better way forward in terms of machine set-up over full race distance.